Yearning to Make a Difference – Sylvia Atwood

Sylvia (far r) and friends relax in Santa Monica

The first day of Alternative Winter Break, to me, served as an introduction into the major homeless problem that LA faces. We met with a police officer who was a liaison for the homeless community in Santa Monica to help them get off the streets. While we learned a lot about the police force and their role in the lives of the homeless community of Santa Monica from Officer Holloway, I was expecting, or hoping for, a stronger sense that I had made a difference.

It was not until after lunch when a small group of us were handing out our leftover sandwiches to homeless in the park that it seemed we were actually taking action. However, even that was incredibly short term experience and we didn’t do anything to help stop the vicious cycle of homelessness we had learned so much about. I very much enjoyed the conversations we had with some of the people we encountered on the street. Someone who specifically stood out to me was a man named David who used be homeless and now lived in an apartment. What amazed me was that he now devoted much of his time to helping other homeless people do the same.
Another man we met had actually been arrested and sent to jail by Officer Holloway but still had a playful relationship with him because he appreciated and recognized the officer’s good work and the effort he put into looking out for the homeless. While today I did learn a lot about the interesting nuances of the police’s relationship with the homeless community, I am looking forward to taking more action in these problems and making a difference in some people’s lives on the rest of the trip.

~ Sylvia Atwood is an 11th grader from Wilmington, NC.